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Thread: What would you do if you ran this airport?

  1. #1

    What would you do if you ran this airport?

    Hi Fellow BAC'ers,

    I've just fallen into the retirement job I could only fantasize about.

    Today I was officially hired as the "Airport Operator" for Hartness State/Springfield Airport in Springfield, VT (KVSF)

    This is the oldest airport in Vermont, established in 1920, and has the 2nd longest runway in Vermont at 5,501' x 100'

    The crosswind runway is 3,000' x 75' --- both are paved with pilot-controlled lighting and there's a localizer and GPS approach.

    66 days after Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, he stopped in Springfield as part of the Guggenheim publicity tour. Pictures in the terminal show thousand of people attended that day, and the 85th anniversary of the occasion is coming up in 20 days. His daughter, Reeve Lindbergh, will be attending. Next weekend (July 3-15) we're hosting the New England Aerobatics championship.

    Great little terminal building and lots of relatively (for the region) inexpensive hangar space.

    Once upon a time this was a very busy airport with both daily commuter air service to Boston, Albany, and NYC, and General Aviation business aircraft based here that kept the place hoppin' from 4 am to 10 pm.

    All that is gone.

    Today we saw 4 takeoffs and landings. Yesterday only one transient takeoff, plus 6 glider tows. VSF is the home to New England Soaring Assn, and the Soaring Club is the most active thing happening here.

    So here's my question...there's this jewel of an airport in the heart of the Vermont Green Mountains with infrastructure most airports would kill for.

    We have no restaurant, no rental cars, no flight school. We do have an A&P/A&I on the field, but he appears to be throwing in the towel.

    I'm starting from near scratch. If this were your airfield, what would you do to revitalize it? I'm thinking BACfest 2013, but I can't wait that long before this place goes into cardiac arrest.

    Help me save this wonderful place. I need your ideas.

    Larry Perry
    '83 Sundowner N65503
    Larry Perry
    '83 Sundowner N65503 @ KVSF

  2. #2
    Hi Larry; Congratulations (I think). That is a big job. Asking BAC is a great start, and I will be first up to toss out ideas. If you can get a bunch of ideas, then some might work out for you and the airport. OBTW, the airport looks great and for the others, here is the AirNav page link.
    The northeast BAC guys have been very active lately, how about a fly-in. You do get the Atlantic Flyer delivered to the airport right? Good for giveaways. They might publish an article about the airport. Hint, they don't especially like to write stuff, but they love it when someone else subits something to them for puclication. How about AOPA...they have lots of ideas for airports looking to survive, let them know where you stand and they might sugest somethijng. How about letting flight schools in the area know you are looking for activity. They might get their instructors and solo students to put KVSF on their list of favorite places to go for cross-country training flights especially if there is a terminal building to brief/debrief. Is there an internet connection at a flight-planning room? That is pretty much standard by now, but in the case of an airport needing help, needs to be mentioned. Food will be a problem unless there is someone who can deliver, or perhaps an airport crew car for a quick trip to get something. In the end, as you know, friendly people, airport cat, or airport dog, can make or brieak a destination. Thats enough for now, who wlse has ideas for Larry?

    Charlie Baumann
    1974 Sport 150
    N6578R, MB-729
    Zuehl Field, near San Antonio Texas

  3. #3
    Definitely need to work up a way to get a car for people. There was some place that featured the unique airport cars that their readers submitted (some were really good, some were real beaters). Flight training seems to be coming into favor again a bit around our airport, we are getting quite a few students driving up from the airforce base wanting to learn how to fly. Do you have a military presence within 100 miles? You may be able to to work a deal with some guys that might have some goverment training $$ available. If you've got full hangers, are any of the renters associated with the EAA? there might be some interest in a local chapter. I only mention it, because that would put you in contact with some people who could organize young eagle flights and get regular folks away from their cell phones and on an airplane, maybe

  4. #4
    Congrats Larry! As you know I fly up to your area to hike and camp. We always need shuttle service to the trailheads. But some way to plan for rental car delivery is also a need. Food is usually a good draw for flying. A simple burger and dog lunch works. Many charity events are draws. I think a radio controlled airplane demo? Maybe a ugly dog contest to raise SPCA funds? Even a monthly Maple Syrup giveaway would draw us southerners! In the winter time any overnight hangar is important for ski trips.

  5. #5
    Congrats Larry - about 100 years ago I did my first dual cross-country and stopped at Springfield. It is beautiful there, please post some pics for us?

    PS - it is my dream job too... I'd start with an on-airport restaurant and the cheapest fuel possible.
    Last edited by gribbled; 07-05-2012 at 10:47 PM.
    Dave Gribble
    Marion IA
    Flying the Restored Hangarmouse (Super III N3698Q)
    Building RV-9A N149DG

  6. #6
    Fuel,food,service. Hanger space for winter visitors. Join beech talk and Cessna's are us and mention it in there places to visit forums. Fuel needs to stay competitive, Air nav planner has fuel 18 cents cheaper a gallon right now 15 nm east. Why would a transient stop and pay more. Just sayin give them a reason to stop. 4 flights a day will not pay for food overhead.

  7. #7
    You have quite a few planes on field. Aviation is a fraternity and social interaction is important so people want to go out there and hangar fly (and then fly real planes). See if you can get an FAA pilot refesher course scheduled there. Try to have some evening or weekend activities like pancake breakfasts or evening barbeques. It would help if you have a budget to work with. An airport open house could help. Is it possible you could have a small airshow with one performer and some static displays. Maybe you could find a someone to do Young Eagles flights (take youth for a plane ride). If there are car clubs, have a car show at the airport just to get people out there. Have a hangar dance. O.K., I think I have said too much, but you get the idea.
    Mike Nielsen
    McCook, NE
    Sierra N9164S

  8. #8
    Thanks so much, everyone---keep the ideas coming.
    Larry Perry
    '83 Sundowner N65503 @ KVSF

  9. #9
    Orbiting Earth Orbiting Earth sjcote's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Springfield, Massachusetts
    Wow, Larry! I am still nervous having jumped into a (much more humble) airport job as a 2nd career. The pool you jumped into is much deeper. Cool!
    OK, I can't offer much more than observations on what I look for in airports I visit.
    Restaurant: Great idea but whoever you attract to run it (NOT the airport...can become an albatross) must understand that it is a long climb up and must include community customers in addition to pilots.
    Airport car: Nice...if it is safe enough, liability-wise. Massachusetts insurance regs, my boss tells me, make it dangerous and expensive to have one here.
    Pilot store: Nearest one to you is, what, Nashua? (Bad example, someone told me he went under??)
    A flight school: This is the primary grabber at Northampton where I am now working. My boss worked hard on it but has 7 instructors on tap and we have roster of students currently on the order of 30.
    Get the airport fixed in the community's mind by offering to participate in local, non-aviation, events. And keep at it...they have short memories.
    I'll send you contact info for my boss. He has done a magnificent job here. (Even if he may have undone it by hiring me.)

    Steve Cote
    BAC Founding Member
    Sundowner N-1958L

  10. #10
    Don't forget the local schools.
    Get the tech school to set up a weather station at the field and monitor it as a field project. Then have the local radio/TV station use the data for their broadcasts; "current temp at Springfield AIRPORT is a balmy 85 degrees"
    They may have a trade apprentice division that could do project plane resto/paint job.

    In Oz

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